MICHAEL Gove has apologised to the House of Commons after the Speaker accused him of failing to follow the ministerial code when making a statement about the approval of a new coal mine in England.

After the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the UK Government’s approval of a new coal mine in Cumbria, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle rebuked him for failing to provide MPs with a copy of his statement in advance. He said: “I’ve got the thinnest statement ever and quite rightly the minister’s gone long.

“So, there’s something missing between what I’ve been provided, [what] the opposition have been provided. That is not according to the ministerial code. We don’t work like that.

“The shadow secretary hasn’t been able to read what’s been said. I’m going to suspend the House for five minutes in order to try and find out what’s just been told to the House.”

Gove apologised to the Speaker and said “no discourtesy was intended” by his failure to provide complete written copies of his statement.

He said: “I apologise to you and to the House.

“No discourtesy was intended and I do appreciate the importance of maintaining the courtesies of the House, particularly with regard to statements.”

Gove has given the go-ahead for the UK’s first new coal mine to be built in Whitehaven in Cumbria, despite local, national and international objections to the plan.

It is estimated the mine will create around 500 new jobs in the area. However, it will also produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in its lifetime.

SNP MP Alan Brown asked the minister whether he had made this decision to appease backbenchers in his own party.

He said: “Why has he made this decision? Just to appease Tory backbench climate change cynics?”

Gove replied: “I relied on the inspector’s report and on the evidence in front of me.”

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Conservative Lee Anderson claimed Labour’s opposition to the plans was “treachery” and that its approval was a win for the working class.

He said: “I speak as an ex-miner and a net zero champion in this place.

“I remember a time when the Labour Party stood shoulder-to-shoulder, side-by-side with the coal mining communities in our great country, but their treachery has taken a new twist.

“They’ve turned their back on the red wall and the coal-mining communities.”

However, not everyone in the Conservative Party is supportive of the plans.

Before the official approval of the plans was announced Alok Sharma MP, who previously served as president of COP26, said the move would be an “own goal”.

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He said: “A decision to open a new coal mine would send completely the wrong message and be an own goal.

“This proposed new mine will have no impact on reducing energy bills or ensuring our energy security.”

He later tweeted that “opening a new coal mine will not only be a backward step for UK climate action but also damage the UK’s hard-won international reputation, through our COP26 presidency, as a leader in the global fight against climate change.”